Staff and consumers with West Central Independent Living Solutions celebrated the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 at Convention Hall at Liberty Park on Wednesday.
Outreach Coordinator Sue Kraus said 182 people attended the event, which far exceeded their expectations of about 100 attendees. The celebration was open to WILS customers, as well as those in the public who have or care for someone with a disability.
According to ADA.gov, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 “prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment, State and local government services, public accommodations, commercial facilities, and transportation. It also mandates the establishment of TDD/telephone relay services.”
“This is about understanding where we’ve come from and the barriers they couldn’t overcome before,” Kraus said. “It’s important because it opened doors for people. They stayed home because they had no way to get from one place to another. It’s all about accessibility and breaking barriers.”
Staff from all five WILS offices helped cook and serve lunch and decorated Convention Hall in a patriotic theme. Attendees enjoyed lunch, played a few rounds of bingo for the chance to win a wide variety of prizes, and heard a speech from WILS board member Dee Kerr, who spoke about how ADA has affected her life.
“People with disabilities can now go to college,” Kraus said. “Dee talked about how she was accepted to college on paper, but had no way to physically get in. She ended up going to a school in Arizona that could accommodate her. Now some schools even have aides to help people.”
Kraus said the event not only gave people the chance to celebrate a historic moment, but it also allowed them to meet other people who may be facing the same challenges.
“They can get peer support from people who may not have the same disability but are in a similar situation,” she said. “They can have a good time and share how they’ve been coping.”
WILS has five locations, including Warrensburg, Sedalia, Clinton, Warsaw and Lexington, and serves a six-county area. It helps connect individuals with services and resources, provides peer support and distributes assisted technology depending on the individual’s needs.
WILS also helps provide transportation for a small fee to take people to and from medical appointments, and provided transportation for as many people as possible for Wednesday’s event. Kraus said they had six vans, and several staff members even volunteered to use their own vehicles to make sure anyone who wanted to attend could get to Convention Hall.
The WILS Sedalia location is located at 1800 W. Main St. Unit A. For more information visit w-ils.org or call 829-1980.